Swans chief Andrew Ireland has convened a Tuesday night meeting of the four northern AFL clubs to thrash out challenges exclusive to Australian football in Sydney and southern Queensland on the eve of Wednesday’s two-day meeting of the 18 club bosses.

 While Ireland’s chairman, Andrew Pridham, has been engaged in a war of words with Collingwood’s Eddie McGuire over the northern academies, the clubs involved insisted their meeting was not a breakaway move. On the agenda for the talks between the Swans, GWS, Gold Coast and Brisbane are their battle against rugby league, promoting the game in developing markets and their push for an early start to the season. 

The meeting of all club chief executives is the first to be hosted by the game’s new boss, Gillon McLachlan. He is expected to further detail the AFL’s push to create a more fan-friendly competition, equalisation moves and proposed changes at head office. 

Generally, the non-Victorian clubs’ CEOs attend a dinner on the eve of the all-in meeting. While Ireland denied suggestions the four clubs were forming a ‘‘bloc’’, he said they faced issues not encountered by clubs operating in traditional football states. 

Ireland and GWS counterpart Dave Matthews suggested the grouping of the four clubs at a farewell dinner in Sydney for departing AFL boss Andrew Demetriou, who encouraged the move. 

The four club chiefs – including incoming Brisbane CEO Greg Swann and outgoing Suns boss Travis Auld – are expected to debate the proposed academy bidding system, academy funding, their relationship with their second-tier competition and their state bodies, along with the worthiness of launching the season early in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast to combat the NRL’s fixture. 

Despite the ongoing debate about the AFL’s proposed revision of the father-son and academy bidding system and the expected changes to be introduced before the 2014 national draft, the issue has not been placed on the CEOs’ agenda this week.